Tomorrow begins the year we decide who won the Long Bet between weblogs and the NY Times.
EngadgetHD: "The 'plug and play' approach that has become quite common on today's electronics didn't work out so well with HDTVs, leaving customers baffled that their TV wouldn't magically display the clean, crisp imagery they viewed on the in-store displays when making their purchase."
Mike Arrington asks what is a weblog?
I wrote a piece on this subject in May 2003.
I tripped over two new (to me) NY Times podcasts today. One of my favorite columns in the Sunday Times is The Ethicist. Now it's available in a podcast. And they have a podcast of a selected op-ed piece from behind the for-pay wall.
Al Jazeera report on Saddam Hussein execution.
This piece, about DRM, is exquisite in its imagery, in its wordsmithery, and accurate.
However, I don't agree with Doc's recommendation for technology.
Any software whose purpose is to copy-protect data, will fail. This is a simple corollary of Murphy's Law, which isn't just a joke, it's a law of nature. Engineers have to learn this in designing systems. It's one reason users get so pissed off when copy protection schemes interfere with their ability to use products in the way they were intended to be used.
For example, I bought a copy of Windows XP to install over some bits that had gone bad on an IBM ThinkPad. As I was installing the software, it told me I would have to first uninstall it on another system it believed I had already installed it on. Now, I couldn't do this, of course, because the software was wrong, I hadn't installed it anywhere else. So here I am, almost $200 poorer, hoping to have a good user experience, and getting ready to call for help, a misadventure all of its own. Never did get the software working on the laptop. Microsoft has my money, I have nothing. If I want satisfaction I'm going to have to put more than $200 of my own time into getting it. Never mind. Lesson learned. No more copy protected operating systems for this user. I don't care how much of my rights they've taken into consideration. I don't trust schemes whose purpose is to lock me out of things I have a right to get into.
So Doc, if you're going to draft a set of rules by which customer-aware companies live, put NO DRM pretty near the top of the list.
But they did.
When I was checking in on the web before going to NY, they offered the option of upgrading to first class for $250. Now that was too good to pass up. Only $250 to be treated better, to get a bigger seat, to be smiled at and cared for? It's a deal! On the way back, I expected to get the same offer, and take it, but they made it really difficult. Here's how.
First, I had to change the flight. Of course there's no way to do it via the web, I wish there were. I call the 800 number, and navigate through their automated system, knowing all the time that it wouldn't be able to handle it either. I pressed 0 for Operator a number of times, but that trick, which often works, was disabled. Remember that I was prepared to pay more to be treated better. Finally, I navigated to the place where it routes you to a person. They put me on hold, listening to recorded messages, but the connection had gotten really bad and I could only hear every third word. I wasn't sure if they were saying things I needed to hear, or if it was the usual idiotic advertisments. I stayed on the line. Finally, after waiting ten minutes, an Indian voice came on. Her name is "Annie." I could only hear every third word. I tried speaking loudly slowly and clearly. After repeating myself a few times I got off the phone, and checked my email. She had made the change, charged me $100, and I went ahead to the web site and spent the $250 to upgrade to first class.
But I realized, sheez, I wanted to pay more to be treated better, and in the end I paid more and wasn't. My time was treated as valueless. Second, not only did they save money by hiring a cheaper person in India, but they also cheaped out on the phone line! Even Skype would have been better than the system they were using. India may be far away, but don't they have good phones? They must be losing business this way. It sure didn't feel good.
Otherwise, the service was great, and I would say What A Deal were it not for this little bit of mess.
I promised the desk clerk at the Millennium U.N. Plaza Hotel that I would blog this and I am a man of my word.
When I checked in there, they asked for a photo ID. He said he was going to make a photocopy. I said I didn't want him to do that. He said it was a requirement, since the hotel was part of the UN. Not sure why or if this is true, but I've been asked for a photo ID going into office buildings in NY, and generally let them have it, but I was concerned in this case because they had also taken an imprint of my credit card. With these two piece of information, there are some delicate places they can get into.
If you're not worried about this, I think you should be. When you hear about schools and businesses losing hundreds of thousands of credit card numbers, it could be yours. I once had all my mail stolen. They eventually caught the people, and it was identity theft. I don't think they ever got access to any of my accounts, but they got banking records and credit card numbers. Since most places don't ask for driver's licenses, it's still thought of as a fairly good way to identify people. But not if you routinely give it to hotels and they enter it into their systems. Next time they lose a few hundred thousand identities, it may include drivers license numbers. If it's the Millennium U.N. Plaza Hotel that loses them, it will be include mine, because I let them photocopy my license.
If I hadn't, I would have lost the money I pre-paid for my room. The desk clerk promised that I would get the copy back when I checked out. However when I asked for it when I checked out they said I couldn't have it. I said that's the last time I stay at your hotel, he said fine. I said I'm going to blog it (I felt stupid at this point) and he said okay.
In my humble opinion, the Millennium U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York plays pretty loose with customer's identity information. I won't be staying there again -- a shame, because otherwise it's a nice hotel, reasonably priced, at a good location.
Releaselog says that the HD-DVD protection scheme has been cracked.
NY Times photo of Saddam Hussein just before his death.
Matt Cutts, who works at Google, on the "tips" issue.
I stopped believing in Google fairplay when they added a Blog-This feature to their toolbar, and didn't use open APIs so users could post with any blogging tool, not just Google's. To be clear, I wouldn't have objected if they had set the default to work with their tool, as long as users could change a preference to use it with other tools. Long-term it would have made their tool more useful to more people, following the principle of sending people away to get them to come back. In other words, giving people choice would have made it possible for their competitors to recommend their product.
Do you trust Google to be fair to all, or do you think they tilt the table in favor of their own tools and content? Perhaps the two issues are not related?
Is Google something special, or just another tech company?
PS: I chose this headline, deliberately, to be provocative. Maybe you think Google never became evil, and never will.
Like Blake Ross, I noticed, with distaste, that Google is inserting "tips" linking to Blogger when you search for things in blogs. Much better to call them ads, which is what they are.
NY Times: "Apple said that its chief executive, Steven P. Jobs, did not benefit financially from any questionable stock awards."
CNN: "Saddam Hussein could be hanged as early as Saturday."
Joshua Marshall: "Hanging Saddam is easy. It's a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion."
GigaOm: "Looks like the much vaunted deal between Edelman PR and Technorati is all but done."
Marc Canter is an original thinker.
Thanks to Sanford Dickert for hosting last night's meetup at Cooper Union. The discussion was lively, lots of people with lots of ideas; the room was ideal for a 1.5 hour discussion. I had a great time, as usual, in NY.
Valleywag is looking for the worst marketing idea of 2006. When Nick asked me, I immediately thought of Microsoft's laptop giveaway, but I'm sure there was worse marketing. Post your ideas here or send them to Valleywag.
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz
I've arrived at Wollman Hall, took some pictures, logged on the wifi. The school's wifi requires that you register with the school, but there's a Starbucks next door, and I'm able to use their wifi with no trouble (I have a Tmobile account).
I had lunch today with Nick Denton, founder of Gawker, pictured at their offices, working on Valleywag. I'm blogging from their headquarters in Soho.
Andrew Baron, who will be at tonight's meetup, says that this will be the best-attended NYC meetup of a certain ilk. It certainly doesn't compare with the TechCrunch party a few weeks ago, but the format here will be different. Thanks to Sanford Dickert, we have a classroom-style space: "Wollmann Lounge at the Cooper Union Engineering Building, 51 Astor Place, next to Starbucks on corner of 3rd Ave and Astor Place," according to Sanford. We will also be honored by the presence of newlywed Raines Cohen all the way from Berkeley. I'll begin with five minutes or so of random podcast-style ramble, then ask what people want to talk about. I'll pick out people at random and ask them to explain something. Likely callouts to Andrew Baron, who just announced a new venture in video podcasting, and proto-blogger Cameron Barrett, who is working on Confabb (of which I am invested). Martin Schwimmer, legal blogger, can help us understand what's what with Internet patentry. Bobby Orbach will call me Biiiiiig Daaaave (probably). We will likely sing a song, maybe two, and then at some point head out for ethnic food.
Michael Markman observes that Edwards is calling people to "do" now, not just vote for him, but let's get stuff done now. Hey, that's what I told him to do at our meeting earlier this year. I also urged Howard Dean to do the same with the $40 million he raised. People who listen are smart. That's the hardest thing to do, judging by how few people do it.
I love it. The lasagna wiki made Techmeme!
Mitchell Tyrell offers a reason I didn't get a demo from Microsoft -- they don't like the coverage they get here. If that's true, and I hope it isn't (I have been known to praise them, read the archive) -- it's a slam on the integrity of everyone they sent a free computer to. Put it this way, if I got one, and I believed what Tyrell says, I'd have to return it immediately. I never want anyone to get the impression that my opinion is for sale. It surely can be influenced, if you have a good product. And I may well buy a Vista machine at some point. I have paid for all the hardware I use today. I did once get a freebie from Microsoft, they sent a guy to my house to install both a new computer and a high-speed Internet line, in 1996, when Bill G was still running the company. Back then I said lots of things he didn't like, but instead of sulking and trying to pretend I don't exist, he engaged me in debate, and we all learned something. It's possible that some of the people at Microsoft today owe their jobs to his approach.
Lots of interesting conversation with Steve Rubel last night. One surprise is that while his blog has much higher Technorati rank than Scripting News, we have higher readership. I always assumed that with high Technorati rank came a certain amount of flow. Apparently not so.
56 people signed up for tomorrow's meetup, we now have a place to meet, at Cooper Union, 5:30PM, thanks to Sanford Dickert. There's still some confusion about this. I'll call Sanford in the morning, and post instructions here. I have a backup place in mind, a restaurant, in case this falls through.
Tonight's Knicks-Pistons game was awesome. Triple overtime. A tour de force of basketball, teamwork, and lots of comraderie among Knicks fans. The hometeam won! Last time I went to a basketball game at the Garden was 1969. Big difference is there's no smoking these days.
Pictures: Knicks vs Pistons at Madison Square Garden.
Disclosure: I was not offered and have not received a Ferrari laptop with Vista installed. How does it feel? Shitty. I wonder if Microsoft has considered the cost of ill-will they create among people whose opinions they don't consider important. I know, damned if you do if, damned if you don't. But it does feel bad, I thought that was worth saying. Everyone who got one thought it was a good idea, apparently. (Same with the Edwards announce, btw.)
Comic of the day courtesy of Dowbrigade.
Kirstie Milner says that iTunes hasn't updated any podcast feeds since 12/21?
John Edwards must be having second thoughts about announcing his run for the presidency tomorrow. It was a great idea, because the week between Christmas and New Years is always slow. But with a former president lying in state in Washington that not only sucks the attention away from his announcement, but also makes it look a bit in poor taste. Much better for he and Elizabeth to line up to pay their respect along with the Clintons, the Obamas and the Sharptons (still my favorite candidate).
Good evening and welcome to Scripting News, Manhattan edition. Coming to you live from the Starbucks on Seventh Avenue and 55th, across from the Carnegie Deli, where theoretically, I'm having dinner tonight with Steve Rubel.
51 people signed up for the meet in NYC on Thurs, 5:30PM, location TBD.
After NY, I head back to Calif for a brief stop then on to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show. Podtech is my host, I'll be using their facilities at the Bellagio, hanging out with the Scobles and Furrier, and my fave, Valeriewag.
BTW, a little bird whispered in my ear that the next time you hear from Scoble he'll be far far away from California, doing something interesting, and surprisingly political.
Chicago Tribune: "When the letter came from City Hall threatening punishment if he continued to serve foie gras at his Chicago restaurant, Doug Sohn framed the warning and set it beside his cash register."
It would be interesting to see which individuals and companies in the RSS space would be willing to issue a disclaimer saying that if they have patents in RSS-related technology, they will never use those patents offensively. We'd have to get a good IP attorney to draft a bullet-proof release form. Any volunteers?
39 people signed up for a NYC meetup on the 28th, possibly at the Google office or a classroom at Cooper Union. Hope it comes together. To be clear, I'm not organizing this; I just created a page on the wiki and put my name on the list.
I'm glad that Jimmy Wales is launching a search engine to rival Google. Someone should try to make the next big leap in search, there's little incentive for Google to try.
Google is repeating the pattern of the previous generation of search engines (Alta Vista, Infoseek) were doing when Google zigged to their zag, so successfully. Today, Google is fattening up and spreading out, going after Microsoft in productivity apps, chasing the TV networks with YouTube. Etc etc. Today search is only one of the things Google is doing, and it may not be the most important thing.
Today Google's profits come from ads, and that business gives them a reason to keep search weak. They want you to do a lot of searching to find what you're looking for -- and the stuff they find for you for free is competing with the stuff they make money on. So Google actually has a disincentive to make search better.
Even if there are reasons to believe that Wales's effort will fail, I'm glad he's trying. We need more people who don't accept the hype, and are willing to try to get to the next level. With enough tries will come success, and perhaps a new search business that is based on the ideas of the 21st century.
Sean Lyndersay of Microsoft posted some comments. He says a lot of nice things, and of course that's appreciated.
But patents are a legal thing, and Sean being nice isn't material. In the blogosphere, of course it is, and Microsoft's defenders will likely say or imply that it's all that matters.
Cutting to the core, the only substance I can see in Sean's comments is that their patent application is limited to things they did that they believe hadn't been done before.
Even if that's true, it's not reciprocal because Microsoft received a lot of patent-free IP from the community. They made a big deal (and still do) about contributing their specs to the Creative Commons, but that is a distraction. We could have recreated those specs, if we ever needed to (there isn't yet much uptake in their extensions), but the patents are much more serious obstacles to growth in the market.
Google and Apple, two other companies Sean mentions, have filed similar patents. Of course what they did wasn't right or fair, but also, neither of them claimed to be helping the community as Microsoft did, and neither has been convicted of antitrust as Microsoft has. Even so, I have been critical of both Apple and Google here, for their efforts to corral RSS behind a wall of corporate ownership. In contrast, I don't think any of the big publishing companies, notably the New York Times Company, who have made a greater and much earlier contribution to the success of RSS than the tech industry has, have tried to own it or fork it as Google, Apple and Microsoft have. There's a lesson here, and Sean is a good teacher. Yes Sean, the tech industry is bad. But even in the tech industry, Microsoft stands head and shoulders above the rest. And yes it has been common practice in the tech industry for companies to blackmail each other, to the detriment of users and the market, but that doesn't make it good practice.
And Sean offers no response to the crucial question I asked, the one that cuts to the core of Microsoft's intentions. And even if he had responded, he's not an officer of the company, and his word isn't binding. His predecessor, a former Microsoft employee, now works at Google. Next week Sean could be working at another company, and his successor could say, when we show him or her how much Sean liked us, "Okay, now what?" And he or she would be right. There's little if anything in Sean's letter that we can take to court.
To those that say the patent is only defensive, note that even though Sean's word would not be binding, he doesn't offer that assurance himself.
I think now would be a great time to hear from Ray Ozzie. He is an officer of the company. His word, if given in writing, would be binding on the company. Microsoft isn't taking this seriously, by sending their response back through Sean, if that's how we're meant to understand this.
CNET says I'm the "self-described co-inventor of RSS."
It's hard to say they did something wrong because what they said is true, I do self-describe that way, in addition to a bunch of other ways. I'm a self-described male, native of New York, resident of Berkeley. 51 years old. 6 foot 2 inches tall. Etc. Having participated in the development of RSS is one of the things I self-describe as.
George W. Bush is the self-described President of the United States.
How arrogant of him! Who does he think he is. When will he get over himself. Glad we debunked him.
On the other hand, he did win a plurality of the electoral votes in the last election. So in addition to being the self-described President, he is also the "legally elected" President.
It's not unusual for reporters to leave out the self-described bit, unless they're trying to leave an impression that the person is silly, or grandiose, or deluded.
Paul Andrews: "It's hard to believe that any self-respecting journalist who values objectivity or fairness would engage in this kind of backhanded defamation."
Another pub that does this is Wired. And they go on to quote Nick Bradbury, saying that he's the developer of a "popular" RSS aggregator. They could have said that I'm the developer of a popular aggregator too, but they left that out. I also wrote one of the first, if not the first aggregator, a precedent for Bradbury's work and Microsoft's. They could have said any or all of that and it would have been true. But they had a point to make and an argument to discredit. And to do so, they had to discredit the proponent. It's an old trick, not logically valid, because whether Microsoft's patent is good or not has nothing to do with my qualifications, its decidable all on its own. If I were running for office, or on trial for fraud, then they might do well to examine my personality, but I'm not. And plenty of other people thought what Microsoft did was pretty nasty. How about talking to a lawyer to find out if it's a good idea to give them a pass on this? They didn't do any of that.
BTW, we're really feeling these quakes in Berkeley. The first one felt like a truck hitting the house. It was quick but loud. The second two were longer and shakier, and didn't make much sound, just the sound of household stuff rattling and the house rolling. Nothing fell down or broke, but my nerves are fraying. You never know whether you should just park your kiester in a doorway or try to make it out to the street. And then after the shaking is over, should you go back to what you were doing, or get out of the house? Oy.
One of my projects for the New Year, if I get my shit together, is to do a right-sidebar thing that accumulates "open" blog posts, items that have yet to be resolved that we should keep on the radar.
For example, there's been no response to my acid test posted at the top of SN yesterday. Until they give us rights to use what they think of as their technology, sorry I don't believe the people who say that it's probably just a defensive patent.
I think it's really weird when big publications who take ads from Microsoft attack me personally, in a way that makes it sound like I'm some kind of credit-stealing idiot. Please see this as a reflection on them, not me. So far three pubs have indulged this way: CNET, Wired and the Guardian. Perhaps others, but I haven't seen them. Each of these pubs deserves a black eye for not bending over backwards to cover a conflict. They take ads from Microsoft. The appearance of impropriety is every bit as bad as the impropriety itself.
No doubt they don't take cheap shots at Microsoft because to do so would cost them money, and if there's one thing they don't take chances with is money. So every time they say something nasty, think of the cash register ringing. Ca-ching. If you work at Microsoft, thinking you're making a difference by making cool software, shame on you. You work for a company that promotes this kind of garbage. It'll catch up with you sooner or later.
This is how the business press lost its credibility, and it's why the tech blogosphere was founded in the first place, to route around their conflicts. It's not just advertising that makes them attack, it's also that they need to get a certain number of phone calls returned by Microsoft people to do their jobs, and if they don't smack me for saying Microsoft did bad, they may return the other pubs calls, not theirs.
This is why if you can trust anyone you can trust a blogger who doesn't take ads and doesn't do interviews. Not saying you shouldn't take what I say with a grain of salt, I have my own conflicts and perspective that color what I say. And all this mess hides the real question they should be asking. Do they think it's good that Microsoft comes into a market that was doing pretty well without them, and before they ship a single product, are already putting up barriers to keep others out? That's good?? Really. Why?
Jon Udell, you haven't started at Microsoft yet. Are you sure you want to?
Antony Mayfield: "Microsoft may be giving high fives round the boardroom table for this move, but how much will it cost them in goodwill and reputation lost?"
Here's an acid test for Microsoft re their patent of RSS technology, and whether or not it's intended for defensive use only. I have no patents on RSS technology, and therefore have imposed no limits on what Microsoft can do with the technology. Will Microsoft reciprocate, and grant me a non-exclusive, perpetual license to use any of their RSS technology in my own products? If it's defensive, they should be willing to grant those rights to anyone who disclaims any patents in this area.
Ian Douglas of the Telegraph on the situation with Microsoft's RSS patent. Nice piece, except he claims that "Really Simple Syndication" was a joke. I don't know where he got that idea; it was not a joke.
Steve Gillmor: "Now we live in an RSS world. What to do next?"
Re Microsoft's patent on RSS applications, apparently it's not a grant of a patent, but a patent application. Nick Bradbury suggests it's a defensive patent, but we have no way of knowing that, and I assume neither does Nick (he doesn't say, but I doubt if he has a channel into the mind of Microsoft's board of directors, today's and future). I've been asked to do a number of press interviews on this, but I don't see what would be accomplished. Basically I'm coming to believe that if it isn't nailed down, someone is going to try to take it. Why shouldn't Microsoft try to take the work of others as its own? All this is going to do is breed more contempt for "intellectual property," a concept that Microsoft depends on for its existence. The Guardian says that Apple has applied for patents in the same area. So software developers of the future will be like people who run BitTorrent aggregators today. When the law is wrong, as it is in this area, it breeds contempt for the law, and disobedience.
BTW, if you want an idea why I generally don't do interviews with professonal reporters, look at the Guardian piece and see if you can spot the unprofessionalism. They can't seem to leave their arrogance out of it. Why don't they attack Microsoft that way? Maybe they take ads from them, or hope to?
Another theory on why the Guardian is so prickly on this subject -- why didn't they break the story? Their ire hides the fact that despite what the pros would have you believe, quite often they're the ones commenting on the news you get first in blogs.
This morning we have 32 signups for a meetup in NYC next week. I think it's got to be on the 28th, say 5:30PM (so people can come after work). A 2 hour discussion, followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant. People have suggested having it at the Google offices in NYC, that's fine with me, if it's okay with them. Using the wiki has turned out real well. Keep up the good work!
Here's the first article I've seen in Al Jazeera (I'm subscribed to their feed) that you wouldn't see in American news. Yes, it's ridiculous, but I'm sure many of the things Bush says about Iraq appear just as ridiculous from the Arab perspective. It's a lot more relevant than the news you actually do see on American cable news, today they're focused on a rape case in North Carolina. Yesterday it was Rosie O'Donnell and they day before that it was whether or not Miss USA was going to get dethroned. Donald Trump decided to give her a second chance, so she could stay the queen for another few months, assuming she went into rehab. All this is going on, supposedly pressing stuff, simultaneously shown on all the cable channels, while dozens of Americans are getting killed and wounded in Iraq, and billions of money we don't have is being flushed down the drain, and of course hundreds of Iraqis are dying while the country disintegrates into chaos.
Andrew Baron and Jeff Pulver have started a "new studio network" called Abbey Corps. Andrew believes it's a "much better business than Podshow or Podtech." I've talked with him about this, at length, and I'm not a believer, as I wasn't a believer in either of the other ventures he mentions. But the video blogs they're going to aggregate are presumably going to be funded, and the people involved need some help (probably Zadi Diaz, Amber Dawn MacArthur and Steve Garfield, definitely not Amanda Congdon) so that's a good thing.
In an environment where YouTube sold to Google for $1.6 billion, it's not surprising that Andrew and Jeff feel there's money to be made from bringing a bunch of talent under one roof.
PS: What about Rocketboom?
PPS: Is Ze Frank in this thing?
The BBC, in a deal with Azureus, will share high-def programming using BitTorrent.
We're making progress on next week's meetup in NYC. We still need to pick a date, I can't do the 27th, when I'm going to a Knicks game with Steve Rubel. But I can do the 28th. We need a place to have it. Ideally, a conference room (or classroom) that can seat about 25-30 people, we can meet at 5:30 or 6PM, talk for a couple of hours, and then go to dinner. Anyone have a room they can volunteer? And Greg Cannon points out that it's so far an all-male affair. It would be great to get some women there. We're not looking for dates, Greg points out, but how about a little variety? That would be nice!
First, thanks for a great discussion yesterday. The best part was there was only a little ad hominem bashing, much less than we used to have whenever we have a sprited discussion of technology. I remember when I couldn't say anything without getting surrounded by a bunch of really nasty personal stuff. Didn't happen yesterday. Almost from the beginning I started learning, and that's always appreciated. So thanks! Good work.
I might have felt a bit differently right off the top, about JSON if I hadn't read this bit of anti-XML propoganda on site that appears to be a JSON advocacy site. If I didn't know to question such things, given the domain name, json.org, it appears to be the advocacy site. Even if it isn't JSON-central, clearly there is some reinvention going on here.
Back in the mid-90s, my first reaction to XML was to retch in horror at the inevitable politics that such a beast would certainly evoke. Back then I was very happy to be working on the web, I thought of it as the platform with no platform vendor, and I saw XML as a way of inviting all the would-be and former platform vendors back in to rule our lives, and prevent us from having any fun or making any money. Eventually I was won over, for one main reason -- interop is important. If I make software that has an open and easy to understand protocol for communicating with other instances of itself, then other people can write plug-compatible software, and users can choose between products based on features, performance and price, not compatibility. I had already seen the world melt down several times as the technology industry fought to form lock-in through various schemes to delude people into thinking they were open to being replaced, when they were anything but.
Fast-forward to 2006, after a lot of time was put in by a lot of people to get a teeny little bit of interop here and there, and predictably, it's being erased, of course, by the tech industry. I don't think there's any doubt about it. This just happens to be the week I took a look. I don't know why. Maybe I was bored. Maybe it was meant to be.
Les Orchard, who I admire, and have worked with several times, says I shredded his product. I didn't mean to. However I did mean to shred the idea that everything can be redone at any time. Sure there are always lots of arguments in favor of starting over, but the one argument against it, imho, is the strongest, interop is sacred, and anything that throws out interop is highly suspect. One way to do things, no matter how flawed, is better than two, no matter how much better the new way is. The Perl community has a different motto, god bless em, but in the space where all languages interop, the less-is-more and worse-is-better approach is what makes things work.
I had lunch with Marc Canter yesterday, and he told me about a conversation he had with Tim O'Reilly and Cory Doctorow, where they told him they knew I had nothing to do with RSS. I asked how they said they knew. They had apparently asked some people at Netscape and they said they didn't work with me. As if that was how RSS came to be the powerhouse it is today. It isn't. Eventually Tim came around, and gave me credit for making RSS happen. Thanks.
The process whereby RSS came to be so powerful was one of building out both ends of the technology, supply and demand, and putting some currency on the network, and hoping it boots up. In the case of RSS as a transport for blog posts and news articles, it did, and the two pieces were Radio UserLand's blogging tool, Radio UserLand's aggregator, and a few early blogs, including Scripting News (the currency). It also worked in a similar manner, eventually, for podcasting.
Today I received a link to a patent granted to Microsoft, where they claim to have invented all this stuff. Presumably they're eventually going to charge us to use it. This should be denounced by everyone who has contributed anything to the success of RSS.
7:15PM Pacific -- Was there just an earthquake in Berkeley??
Rattled the staircase in the house.
Gotta love em, because there's no way they're going to stop breaking what works, and fixing what don't need no fixing.
I've been hearing, off in the distance, about something called JSON, that proposes to solve a problem that was neatly solved by XML-RPC in 1998, the encoding of arrays and structs in a format that could easily be processed by all programming languages. The advantage being that you could easily support the protocol in any language that supported XML and HTTP, which, at the time, was quickly becoming all languages.
Then came SOAP, a re-invention of XML-RPC, that I saw as the inevitable fussing that BigTechCo's feel they have to do to give their software lock-in, make it impossible for another developer to reverse-engineer the profile they used, and make the documentation so broad and incomprehensible that it's impossible to ever completely implement it. Competition-free open protocols. Microsoft and IBM succeeded at that, with help from Sun, leading to a backlash, some of it well-intentioned, and some of it hypocritically promoted by the very same people who made SOAP so difficult to program! Such chutzpah, but already the users were so confused they thought it was just geeks being difficult.
I said it then, you'd still need to come up with an object serialization format for REST apps, otherwise every app has to start from scratch, they could have used the one SOAP used (we defined a profile called the Busy Developer's Guide to make that possible), or god forbid, use the original one in XML-RPC, but maybe the new devs at various big Silicon Valley companies never heard about these proto-standards, or chose to re-invent anyway. They came up with this thing called JSON, that I kept saying to myself, "You don't even want to look."
Today I looked. I read on Niall Kennedy that del.icio.us has come up with an API that returns a JSON structure, and I figured, sheez it can't be that hard to parse, so let's see what it looks like, and damn, IT'S NOT EVEN XML!
As Dr Phil asks -- What were they thinking?
No doubt I can write a routine to parse this, but look at how deep they went to re-invent, XML itself wasn't good enough for them, for some reason (I'd love to hear the reason). Who did this travesty? Let's find a tree and string them up. Now.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, this is why I'm fed up with Mountain View, Cupertino, Redwood Shores and Redmond. Give me Berkeley and New York any day. Silicon Valley is made up of little boys pulling their puds, constantly making love to each other, pretending the world revolves around them.
End of rant.
Discuss here. Note -- it's an incredible thread, proof that there's still a bunch of minds in the loop here. I'll probably write up a summary of what we learned tomorrow. Thanks.
Assuming you agree, would you be willing to stand up with other Americans, and march together to stop the war in Iraq?
Would you march in your hometown, or go to Washington to help save the lives of young Americans in Iraq?
Will you hold a sign, a candle, say a prayer, sing a song, stand up and be counted?
Perhaps Christmas Day is a day to take to the streets?
Shall we have a bloggers meetup in NYC next week?
The San Francisco Chronicle tries to write about the Silicon Valley Asshole Society, a late-80s early-90s phenomenon. Its name was chosen so as to make it impossible for press people to write about it. I think Marc Canter was kicked out because we knew it would piss him off. And everyone said they were the founder of the society. That was the nature of the group. BTW, I was the actual founder, along with Stewart Alsop and Guy Kawaksaki.
Mary Hodder recommends a conference on DRM in March in Berkeley. Reviewing the schedule, it seems there's plenty of discussion and advocacy of DRM but not much dissent. Imho there's no DRM in our future. It's like discussing OpenDoc and OLE in the years the web was gaining traction. Podcasting and RSS point the way for media in the age of the Internet. BTW, I'm pretty sure Mary would agree.
The President wants to send more troops to Iraq. Almost no one else thinks this makes sense. Will civil disobedience follow?
1. The women in my family are beautiful and powerful. My mother has a PhD and she doesn't take any shit. Her mission is to get all the buses in NYC to turn off their engines when idling, and she's winning. She played a role in integrating the schools in the neighborhood I grew up in. Her picture was once on the front page of the NY Times walking my little brother to school in Corona, which is a black neighborhood adjacent to Jackson Heights, the neighborhood we lived in. One of her cousins was the famous 40s box office bombshell and geek, Hedy Lamarr.
2. My brother lives in Los Altos and has three kids, and is married to the VP-marketing of Filmloop.
3. My iPod has every song recorded by Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello and the Beatles.
4. Some people think that one of the reasons I kept this blog going is because I am in a fight with Mike Arrington, but this is not true. I like Mike, he's helped me many times, he's intensely loyal, under a lot of stress, and I absolutely do not hold anything like a grudge with him. I never want to fight with Mike, but I don't always agree with him.
5. I might write a book. I have to learn how to write an outline and a proposal, and then after that comes the task of writing the book itself. I already have an agent, and there are publishers that are excited about it.
Now I have to tag five other people.
My parents were here for the lasagna dinner on Sunday and for breakfast on Monday. My dad, as usual, is full of stories. Apparently he's been watching Dr. Phil, because he quotes him all the time. "What were you thinking?" is the punchline of many of his tales. It's often a good question.
For no special reason, I want to say that Deal or No Deal has become my favorite TV show. Ever since Howie Mandel made an appearance on Studio 60, I've been tuning in whenever I can. It's a very nice show. A little math and a lot of spunk.
We were excited when the Google API came online, we waited for them to come up with a licensing plan that would allow developers to build Internet-scale applications using the API. Today, the wait is over, and it's not good news.
Google is deprecating the API, which means, for now, they will continue to implement their side of it, but they won't be issuing new keys, and presumably we should not wait for a business plan. This leaves the door open to others -- my recommendation would be to support the API as-is so that developers who have built on it can just change the name of the server and their software works. Google blinked in search. Who would have thought such an opportunity would present itself. Seems a perfect opening for Amazon or Yahoo.
Postscript: The discussion here has taken an interesting turn.
The Library of Congress supports RSS.
We had a lasagna party at the house in Berkeley last night.
Lots of Berkeleyites, people from the Hillside Club, and Jen and David from Santa Cruz, Robert and Maryam from Half Moon Bay, my parents from New York City. A full table and lots of food, humor, politics, candles, fun!
So many people not from the US. Let's see if I can list all the places. Holland, Germany, Iran, Rumania, Czechoslavakia, England, Tibet. That wasn't even part of the plan.
Anyway, the lasagna that held such promise was in the oven too long, and while I was tending to this and than, it burned. Luckily there's a potluck on Friday night, I'll do it again, based on the theory that you need to get back on the horse right after you fall off. The dish was good all the way up to the end. And everyone was very gracious, and said it was good, but I wasn't satisfied, myself.
Dan Gillmor nails it, but doesn't go quite far enough, imho. He says that Time's wording betrays a royal point of view, a separation they cling to, that no longer exists. But I'd go further, and say that the person of the year is not you or us, but me. The correct picture is a camera shot over the mirror looking at Homer Simpson's face looking into the mirror, with pride. The theme song would be the Beatles singing I, Me, Mine. It puts the honor right where it belongs, and the responsibility too. But good on you Dan, for getting your p.o.v. out of m.s.m. and joining the rest of us!
It's not the aggregation of all the voices that matter so much (although they do matter, as in Netflix recommendations) -- it matters more that my mother blogs, or my programmers, or friends. When Silicon Valley types talk about The Long Tail, crowd-sourcing or user-generated content, they're playing the same game that Time is, separating themselves where there is no separation. Each of us has a voice. Sure some of us serve as aggregators, and that used to give them more power. But not so much anymore. That's a key point.
Stowe Boyd: "Everything worth doing is difficult to do well."
Lasagna in the oven, soon to feed hungry eaters.
Glad to have gladiolas.
Oops, you might not be the person of the year, after all.
Om, thanks for the kind thoughts. Maybe Ev, Ben, Mena, Matt and myself should throw a party remembering how the software of the blogosphere came to be.
Amyloo on the latest back and forth in the love-hate-fest between Amanda and Andrew. I can't stand watching this meltdown. I may see Andrew next week in NYC, I was planning to before all this crap started flying, but I know that when Andrew is in Amanda-obsessed mode, he can't talk about anything else, and to me it's both frustrating and monotonous. He's got it bad. I don't know where Amanda is at, but if I had Andrew nipping at my heels that way, I'd be wondering how the hell I could put this behind me and get on with my life. I've had situations like this, where people are irrationally obsessed with me, when it isn't clear what they want, other than to keep me right where I am. I consider both Amanda and Andrew friends. I've spent much more time with Andrew than Amanda, countless times I've told him to just let it go. I say the same thing to Amanda, because I think she's holding on too. Of course it's easier to see this when you're on the outside. But that is where I am, thankfully.
Watching the Sunday morning news shows, I can't believe they're seriously talking about sending more U.S. troops to Iraq. Uhhh that's incorrect. We need to get our troops out of there. I think there's been a misunderstanding.
One thing that's become clear -- the press no longer supports the war. They did, for a long time, and should take their share of the responsibility. But they won't let this war go on much longer, and they have the power. They can show us the human side of the war, here at home. Profiles of dead soldiers and their families. They know how to pull the mass heart strings. It's hard to imagine what will make them flip back to carrying water for Bush.
Time named its person of the year, and it's you!
I got a nice mention in one of the cover stories.
YouTube: Hand Farting the Star Spangled Banner.
Today meat sauce, tomorrow lasagna.
I read on Frank Shaw's blog that Nick Denton thinks that embargoes will soon be a thing of the past. I think this is a good thing, even though I fully understand why big companies like Microsoft (Shaw's client) have attempted to orchestrate product rollouts in the past. It made more sense before there were blogs, when the number of news outlets was finite, and when most people were dependent on intermediaries to find out about new products. That hasn't been true for quite some time, and it will be less true in the future.
The embargo system led to an inbred information flow, and created opportunities for competitors that didn't have the ear of the big pubs, like the NY Times, Fortune, Business Week or the Wall Street Journal. How many of the ideas that made a difference in the last few years were rolled out in the orchestrate and embargo system? When you see a rollout that's been orchestrated does that make you more or less interested? For me, if 18 big publications got the story before me, I'm not interested at all. If Om and Mike got it before me, ditto. And in a world where everyone is a publication, you just can't play favorites, you have to find a way to spread the news on your own, without help from middlemen.
Luckily it's easy to do. No reason you can't cover your own rollout. It requires that you undestand your product, have an idea how people will see it. It means maybe you haven't been that secretive about it while you were creating it. Chris Anderson's list of transparency features, which we've been writing about here for years, apply to businesses too. So what if your competitors know where you're going. Stop worrying about them so much, think more about the users.
The embargo system is a throwback to the ivory tower development system. But I'm sure of this -- in the future, the users are the designers, so you can't hide your ideas from them, they already know them, if you're barking up the right tree, if your ideas are any good. So goodbye to embargoes, and good riddance.
Happy Birthday Betsy the Babe!!
I'm watching Scoble's interview with Mark Lucovsky at Google. I have to admit there was a point where my chin hit the floor. Guess where that is. Beyond that point, well, I don't really support the idea of a search engine where you can only find one brand of hotel. I believe in modeless software, search should always be search, nothing more nothing less. Perhaps the day of the "professional" developer is over.
Scoble explains why no hard questions for Bill Gates.
Remember the press room thing I wanted to do, why don't we organize one for
Wired reviews MP3 tag editors for Windows, Mac & Linux.
On the lunch walk with Lance on Wednesday, we talked about the level of reality the MSM is willing to report, and how it lags behind discernable reality by a matter of weeks or months.
For example, it wasn't until after the election that they were willing to call the fighting in Iraq a civil war. Now the discussion has moved beyond that, and they're almost willing to say we're losing the war in Iraq, and that the President somehow wants a strategy to win the war. (They quote the incoming SecDef, heroically, for admitting that we're "not winning," which isn't exactly the same as losing.)
Going all the way back to the beginning of the war, the MSM didn't ask the obvious question -- given that there's no evidence that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11, why are we invading them now? Wouldn't it be more prudent to focus all our energy at rooting out and destroying the people who organized the attack? It seems we should have been talking about that, not just in hindsight, it seemed that way at the time, too.
But now, in late 2006, we seem to still be at least one step behind where we should be. When talking about winning and losing, how could we know, when we haven't got a way to measure success or failure? Simple, obvious point -- but, again, we're not looking at what's necessary and obvious, at our peril, really. It could get a lot worse. I don't think people are factoring that in. Or so it seems.
In World War II, victory in Europe was clear when Hitler was dead and the Allies occupied Berlin. The Pacific war was over and won when the Japanese surrendered and we occupied Tokyo. Even the Cold War had a clear outcome, amazingly. I suspect most people wouldn't have thought it would ever end, but it did. We won that war too.
I suppose we could spell out some formula for victory in Iraq, but until the President tells us what his definition is, there's no point. Whatever the goal, I certainly wouldn't support sacrificing any more American lives even to turn Iraq into a peaceful country. And from everything I've read, it seems this would take 10 or 20 years, if it could happen at all. But I think there's reason to believe that Iraq can't get on with finding peace until we leave, as long as the country is occupied, that will be the issue everyone talks about and fights over.
So maybe the MSM could help us by starting to make this the question of the day: What is victory, Mr President, while we're waiting for you to tell us how you're going to win?
The People of the World
Valleywag's nine best business moves of 2006. Heh.
Om Malik eulogizes Al Shugart. Amen brother!
Classic rambly rant from Monsieur Marquis de Canter.
Scoble: "Google is delivering the Web goods and is taking over more and more of my life."
Bruce Schneier: "Passwords are getting better."
Doc Searls: "Henrietta's is for politics and media what Bucks Woodside is for venture capital."
Aaron Swartz: "Google hires programmers straight out of college and tempts them with all the benefits of college life."
Dale O'Gorman asks the power question: "Why can't we be both the vendor and the customer?" Exactly. Master this concept and you've mastered commerce for the 21st century.
Geek News: "No hard questions for Bill Gates?" My guess is that Bill Gates still likes hard questions, but the rest of Microsoft doesn't.
Paolo, who was at Le Web 3, says it was a mixed experience, neither wholly positive or negative.
I woke up this morning with a desire to heal all the wounds of the world, to settle the war in Iraq, help the Republicans and Democrats get along, and help Mike Arrington make peace with Jeff, Rafat and Sam Sethi.
But first, on healing the wounds of the world.
I had lunch yesterday with Lance Knobel, a longtime friend, blogger, and by a very lucky coincidence, fellow Berkeleyite. Things like that happen in Berkeley, friends who used to live on another continent show up here. Berkeley, therefore, borrows cultural elements from all over the world because it's so international, and yet, it's a very small place, where everyone seems to know everyone else (or getting that way for me, since I am a new arrival myself).
Before Lance came over, Sylvia showed up with a NY Times article she wanted me to read, and her accomplished friend Joan Blades, co-founder of MoveOn.org. Joan is busy but she still wants to decorate my house. Passionately. One of the reasons I love my house so much is that passionate and intelligent women want to decorate it. Me, I like colors and scenery, that's how my mind works. And wires. I really like wires. No joke, that.
Anyway, Joan is thinking about the same things I am thinking about, in her own context. Get this -- she's co-hosting a conference on mothering issues, in Charleston, SC, women from the Christian Coalition! Wow. That's so cool. I'll get you some pointers in a bit.
Now back to Arrington. I can't help it, I love the guy. I see recent events as an awkward statement on his part that he needs friends, and needs help. I would never turn down something like that, because long before he became an Internet superstar, he was very supportive and helpful and encouraging, so I know he has it in him, and I want to help that part of who he is come back to the surface.
I wrote a bunch more about this in response to a post he made yesterday, one that I'm ashamed to say a friend of mine wrote. Let's just say he was having a Bad Hair Day, and move on from there. (Of course there's the matter of a guy who got fired, he can't move on quite so easily, and I'd like to see that have a happy ending too.)
I don't think Dave Jacobs will mind me saying that, when he was terribly sick two years ago, waiting for a kidney transplant (the word "waiting" itself a cruel joke on the process) there was a time or two his anger got directed to places it didn't belong. I remember saying that I don't care how mean you are, I'm still your friend, nothing is going to change that. I understand how frustrating life can be sometimes, and know that if I stand with someone and offer my strength in a moment of weakness, there's a chance they'll survive and we'll get to an even better place. We recently celebrated the two year anniversary of Dave's new life, and I gotta say it was easily worth any small pain I had to endure. Easily, easily.
So it's easy to move on from where we're at. Arrington is a good guy going through some tough times. Shit happens. My guess is that Jarvis feels the same, and maybe the three of us should get together for a dinner sometime soon, we're long overdue for an Old Farts Genius Network meeting.
Tim Johnson, the 59-year-old US Senator from South Dakota, may have suffered a stroke. If he can't serve, a replacement will be appointed by South Dakota's governor, a Republican. Johnson is a Democrat, whose 51-49 majority in the new Senate would turn into a 50-50 tie.
NY Times: "Congdon -- a droll, blond Rosalind Russell for the digital generation -- has at last landed at ABCNews.com."
Rosalind Russell starred with Cary Grant in His Girl Friday.
Jeff Jarvis on a puzzling flare-up in comments in response to a recent Techcrunch post about the NY Times. I agree with Arrington that the Times isn't doing well in competition with the web, but I don't go as far as he does. When I think they're wrong I say it. But I also think the Times is important, in the same way that Techcrunch is important. Even if they're sloppy, self-serving, and nasty, the fact that something was said in the Times, at least for now, is itself important.
News.com: "GPS devices might not help you get rescued if you're lost, but they can help you avoid getting stuck in the first place."
I got an email from Dan Gediman, president of This I Believe, Inc, apologizing for the fund-raising email I received yesterday. Accepted, with these suggestions. 1. When I gave you my email address, I assumed it was only for communication regarding my article. Now I wonder how else you're going to use the information. 2. If you're going to continue sending email solicitations, it should be made clear, up front, that there is no connection between the solicitation and the submission. 3. Apply the golden rule, respect the integrity of your authors as you would insist on having your own integrity respected. 4. I don't think the editorial side should be sharing contact information with the publishing side. And while I do appreciate the apology (btw, I found it more than "bothersome"), this affair has lowered my opinion of your organization, the program, and of NPR.
I was talking with Scoble this afternoon about today's events in ArringtonLand.
I wondered out loud if Mike should have created a network of sites, or if it would have worked better if he had stayed the sole author of TechCrunch. Who knows what that path would have led to. He might have emulated Ben Rosen, the author of the Rosen Electronic Letter in the late 70s and early 80s, which was something like TechCrunch, though it ran less frequently and was printed on paper. Rosen got to know all the players in the nascent PC industry, and when he was reasonably sure how the industry would develop, he quit the newsletter (turning it over to Esther Dyson) and started two companies: Compaq and Lotus, and became even more influential in very short order (and hugely rich, btw).
It would be hard for Mike to do that, with all the management hassles that come with a growing network of publications. But, it might still be possible. He still has unique access to the product plans of the industry, and people would probably kill to have him involved in their companies.
A lot of people are going to say "I told you so."
So, to those, enjoy!
I'm going to keep this blog going for a while longer, Murphy-willing, at least until April next year, its 10 year anniversary. It'll be the first blog to make it to 10, and that's a nice round number. We'll see then what the plan is.
A few reasons. First, I'm enjoying writing on the web these days. Second, a project I'm working on that needs a rollout via the web, is taking longer than I thought it would (what else is new). And third, well, there's some other stuff I can't write about at this time, but I'll want to have a platform and a pulpit. Someone is picking a pretty ridiculous fight with a guy who buys his ink by the barrel, and I want to be sure I got all the tools I need to fight back.
Got this email today, a plea for a financial contribution to This I Believe. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
Background: I wrote an essay for the show, and submitted it through their website. This is the first email I got from the show. No acknowledgement of the essay, no rejection or acceptance, just a request for money.
This feels like shit. I poured my heart into the essay, after spending a year thinking about what to write. Now I gotta wonder, if I don't send the money, will they consider my essay. Or if I do send the money will they run it?
I really want it to be separate from money. If they waited until they decided about my essay to ask for money, that would have felt better. If they had rejected it, I could have been certain there's no connection. But this way, well, I can't give them money without retracting the essay.
It's funny that reporters who care so much about their own ethics have such disregard for those of their contributors. I can't withdraw the essay, btw, because I agreed to very one-sided terms (as usual) in order to submit it.
Get this guys -- user-generated-content is written by people. For a show like This I Believe, you better hope they are people of the highest integrity, not the kind of person who would give you money to increase the odds. This kind of solicitation is off the wall. The answer is no. Emphatically.
Ryan Tate says that what Bob Edwards did on behalf of This I Believe is wrong.
The Qube 2 arrived today. I've set it up and it's working. I was surprised at how big it is (my first one seemed a lot smaller, but that was probably about 7 years ago) and how noisy it is. First task is to learn how to get it to file-share with a Mac.
Google search for stuff about the Qube on this site.
After a couple of hours fussing with it, I think history has passed the Qube by. I owe the designers of this product so much, without the Qube, I honestly think it might have taken a lot longer for browser-based blogging tools to come along. It showed me how a powerful software system could be entirely configured through a web server. Look at this screen for a clue. One of the very cool things in evidence is that the Web Server can't be turned off, because that's the only way to access the system. With that as a core assumption, all the rest of the functionality grew. Error messages come via email. Everything else happens in the browser.
From there, I got the courage to attempt to do a full web content management system in the browser, which led me to Edit This Page, and a list of stories and pictures, and a calendar, and reverse-chronologic blog posts.
That was 1999. First learn from the Qube, then apply the lesson to writing for the web. The result -- blogging as we know it today.
Tom Morris is reporting live from Le Web 3 in Paris.
I watched a bit of the Le Web 3 videocast today, and observed what you always see at non-unconferences -- stiff, lifeless discussions, people who normally are quite interesting in conversation, totally in their heads, boring, nervous, too self-aware, no spirit to it. Only David Weinberger, the veteran teacher, shone (as he always does).
3/5/06: "The idea for an unconference came while sitting in the audience of a panel discussion at a conference, waiting for someone to say something intelligent, or not self-serving, or not mind-numbingly boring. The idea came while listening to someone drone endlessly through PowerPoint slides, nodding off, or (in later years) checking email, or posting something to my blog, wondering if it had to be so mind-numbingly boring."
Two conferences ago I emailed with Loic about how to avoid this, why not adopt the latest in technology conference technology, pioneered by the blogging world itself, at a conference about blogging? He didn't understand (no fault of his, there's a language barrier). I asked him to invite me to lead a discussion at the next one, and assumed he would so I didn't worry. The next conference came, no invitation, and this time I didn't even ask for one. I got the impression that Loic had not heard of me (just an impression, he didn't say so.)
I think if ever there was a time when letting the former audience drive the discussion, this was the time to do it. If he's ever going to understand it, this is the year he will understand it.
SuperDuper claims to back up iPods. Does it? Of course, any podcast player should either 1. Allow easy file system-level access to all the data stored on the device, including metadata or 2. Include a reliable, perfect, one-click backup utility (and not too many clicks to restore). #1 is vastly preferable.
And they say all the good domains are taken.
David Cohn: "The strength of YouTube isn't the mass of copyrighted material and television shows, many of which have been purged. Rather, it's the loyal community of viewers and users who upload content. That's what Google was buying and what other media companies don't have."
Gabe Rivera does rivers for each of his news sites.
Here's the river for Techmeme, for example.
He also explains why rivers can be so useful. "I just got back from a long weekend. Now how do I scan headlines that I've missed without plugging in different dates?"
Rivers are also useful if you can't remember where you saw an article you want to quote in a blog post.
The Scobles are stuck in traffic on the San Mateo Bridge. Can you help them figure out what's happening?
My iPod got stuck on an MP3 today, a legally downloaded podcast of a favorite public radio show. It won't respond to any of the various magic keypresses, at least the ones I know of, and of course there's no way to do a power cycle. And because of the DRM, there's no backup, so even if I reformat the iPod, I'll have to set up everything all over. Meanwhile the music industry says it's all about piracy, that's why Apple cripples this $400 (now worthless) piece of high design.
NY Times: "In the south, if the Americans give the Iraqis weapons, the next day you can buy them here," said one dealer, who sold groceries in the front of his kiosk and offered weapons in the back. "The Iraqi Army, the Iraqi police -- they all sell them right away."
Steve Rubel stumbled across a weird connect between Google Base and podcasts. Anyone know what's going on here?
Scott Beale's photos from last night's wedding.
Michael Gartenberg: The Lessons of Zune.
Steven Levy: "Microsoft pays Universal a dollar for each Zune sold."
NY Times: "It's borrowed art that has been warped, wrecked, mocked and sometimes improved. It's blogs and open-source software and collaborative wikis and personal Web pages. It's word of mouth that can reach the entire world."
Hanging out in the lobby of the Hyatt in Bellevue early this afternoon and I came upon this happy couple getting ready to be married later today.
That said, the women at this wedding, so far, are incredibly beautiful. What a show. Everyone is wondering if there there will be wifi in the hall but I'm not bringing my laptop or camera, just bringing my eyes and ears. I am not wearing a tux either. Just a suede jacket, slacks and a tie, and at that I feel horribly over-dressed. I do admit to trying on a suit at Nordstrom's, and there was a time believe it or not when I wore a suit to work every day, but that was a long time ago. Now, even at a wedding of two dear friends, I still dress what many would call casual. Much love to Ponzarelli, she's a real sweetie, and a courageous one at that. Chris is a very very lucky man. Hope he knows it.
Doc Searls: "I'm far more capable, energetic, optimistic and eager to change the world at 59 than I ever was at any earlier age."
Andrew Shebanow illustrates how an apparently open XML-based format can still be fairly proprietary and provide lock-in for the designer. I sent a pointer to this article to Jon Udell, Microsoft's newest evangelist, asking for comments.
Today's movie: Happy Feet. B+
Jon Udell is leaving Infoworld to work for Microsoft.
Rex Hammock: "Microsoft has just acquired a media brand."
Jeff Sandquist is Udell's new boss.
UniveRSS is a "3D RSS feed reader for Windows Vista."
I'm curious about HDNet. I don't get it on my Comcast cable system. Is there a website where you can download the shows? A feed I can subscribe to? Any way to sample their offerings, even if it isn't in HD, even if Comcast doesn't get on board?
Microsoft: "If you are an enclosure publisher that wants to serve enclosures larger then 15MB to IE7 users, then you should use HTTP servers that support HTTP RANGE requests. Most popular web servers support HTTP RANGE requests."
I don't know whether my server supports this feature or not, and I suspect most enclosure publishers (ie people who do podcasting) don't know either.
Yesterday I did a podcast that was more than 15MB. It's not at all uncommon for a podcast to be bigger.
It surely seems Microsoft could handle the buffering without requiring a special feature from the server.
How much thought did they put into this?
Is it in the deployed verison of their RSS Engine?
If I were a developer I'd be very careful about using their engine, situations like this are why you should be concerned. It could be a harmless limit (we'll find out), on the other hand, it might not be harmless.
NY Times: "There is no victory to be had in Iraq, and however American troops withdraw, they will leave behind a deadly mess."
News.com reports that editor James Kim was found dead.
NY Times: "Mary Cheney, the daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, is expecting a baby with her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, Mr. Cheney's office said today.
Dan Fost profiles Mike Arrington.
Ross Mayfield gets Scobleized.
Cyclists use a magnetic yellow card to let drivers know they got too close.
Reporters on CNN have copies of the Iraq Study Group report. Sounds like mishmash. The obvious answer is that we maximize safety of Americans, and redeploy them back to the USA to their homes and families. We let Iraq be owned by the Saudis, Iranians, Syrians, whoever steps in to bring order, if anyone can. We get ready for a future where we're one of many non-superpowers. We have the Bush family to thank for our precipitous decline. The ISG punted, they didn't want to be the ones to say what's so obvious. So Americans continue to die in Iraq, for nothing, and the financial bleeding continues.
I spent a couple of hours today with Doc discussing Vendor Relationship Management. There really is something here.
Note to Terry Semel: Get on board with VRM. Big bucks. Zig to Google's zag. Doc will explain.
Robert Gates, the designated Defense Secretary, testifying today in Washington, tells the same lies as Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. Stabilizing Iraq is as hard a problem as stablilizing US cities, where we have the advantage of being locals and having a real reason to care. Yet crime and poverty in our cities haven't succumbed to various wars (poverty, drugs) and Iraq isn't going to succumb to the global war on terror, which is bullshit of course, what we're doing in Iraq is nothing like a war, it's more like suicide.
Reorg at Yahoo!
I give up on Studio 60. It's dull, childish, plotless, not funny, not heart-grabbing, takes itself far too seriously. Not interesting. Wish they had used the money for this show to buy another season of The West Wing.
Brier Dudley: "Did Google Maps lead CNET editor astray?"
Google directions from Grants Pass to Gold Beach, OR.
Jason Calacanis is getting a job at Sequoia Capital.
Steve Michel lost a good friend on Sunday, Mike Britten.
I'm a regular listener to the NPR radio show, This I Believe. I've never met the founder of the show, Jay Allison, but we have many friends in common. I believe in This I Believe, but that's not what this essay is about. I also believe in voting, The Golden Rule and Murphy's Law, and commonsense principles like What Goes Around Comes Around. I could write essays about these subjects and easily fill 500 words. I also share Chris Lydon's belief in the Emersonian Ideal of self-reliance, the power of thought, the power of the individual. In many ways I have dedicated my life to these ideas, but that's not what this essay is about.
I was listening to Chris's interview with Jay on my daily walk yesterday. I like to take NPR podcasts with me on my walks. It's my time every day to fill my mind with new ideas from the brilliant programmers at NPR. The This I Believe essays are frequent companions. Yesterday it was an interview with the man himself. As I settled into my stride, I saw a woman ahead with a dog, the dog was doing his thing and the woman was bending over to pick up the prize. I thought to myself "I'll just cross the street," and luckily there was a cross-walk. Berkeley, where I live, is like Cambridge, when it comes to the rules of the road. The law is the same everywhere, the pedestrian has the right of way. As long as the pedestrian is in a crosswalk, the traffic must stop. But in places like New York, New Orleans, St Louis or Denver, the law is ignored, and pedestrians must wait until the traffic clears, whether or not there's a crosswalk. But Berkeley is one of a handful of places where the pedestrians regularly risk their lives and step out into traffic.
And regularly the drivers keep on coming as if we weren't there. You then have a fateful choice, stand your ground, don't run to get out of their way (and risk tripping and getting run over anyway), or chance losing a game of chicken and become righteous roadkill, having stood for your rights, having it become your last stand.
I've stared down many a driver, and I'm still here. I've actually broken one windshield and one headlight. When the drivers stop, always outraged to have their space invaded, I try to keep my cool, and ask them to think about it. How did I get so close that I could break a piece of your car, if you weren't breaking the law? And you just lost a headlight, I might have lost my life.
Female friends say they are never challenged this way. Do people think that a strong male body would crumple any less completely when hit by a multi-ton SUV or pickup?
When I end up staring at the grill of a car that didn't want to stop, but was forced to, being an engineer and inventor, I think for the rest of my walk, how can we solve this problem? Maybe walkers could carry an indelible paint, and mark the car as an offender. Let the person explain to the husband or wife why there's this mark on the grill of the car. It could lead to some interesting talks at home. Honey, that could have been blood or bone.
Me, when I'm driving, I always stop, and the pedestrians almost always grin with gratitude. Everyone likes to be respected, and this is a very nice way to show respect. A mother crossing the street with a couple of small children deserve your protection no more than an aging man listening to a podcast. We all need to be heard, and the law is there for a good reason, to make walking seem safe. And walking is such a good thing, it saves the atmosphere, protects against disease, and it fosters the kind of thought we need more of.
So this is what I believe, when you see a human body crossing the street, as you approach in your car, don't treat it as an obstacle or a slalom pole. Remember, this is a person, someone's son or daughter, husband or wife, aunt or uncle. Obey the law, stop, get a smile. Feel good about yourself.
Natali Del Conte: "If I took a shot for every time someone said the words 'bubble,' 'boom,' or 'bust' at Google's holiday press party tonight, I would probably be wasted."
Must-listen-to NPR News story on soldiers returning from Iraq with serious mental health problems.
Last night's podcast with Jason Calacanis, Peter Rojas and myself, discussing the new podcast platform we're contemplating.
Google puts a lid on new products. "Realizing that its myriad services are confusing users, it will focus on refining what it has." Bad news for Web 2.0 startups hoping to be acquired by Google.
A little friendly digging from Microsoft mouthpiece Frank X. Shaw.
Over the weekend, a CNET reporter and his family (wife, two children) were reported missing in Oregon. Earlier today the wife and children were found. This is good news, of course, let's hope they find the reporter too, safe and sound.
Remember the Amazon product that I paid extra to have arrive the next day? That was 5 days ago. Well, it looks like today's the day when it will finally make its arrival, knock wood, Murphy willing, I am not a lawyer, my mother loves me, etc. (Postscript: It arrived. They were a pair of supposedly great headphones. In reality, not so great. A $10 headset from Sony sounds much better, imho.)
Okay, I didn't have the Etymotics properly inserted in my ear. Once I did, the sound is great!! Oh yeah.
Naked Jen: "Maxi Pads are the cherry on their yogurt sundae."
AdAge confirms what I've been saying for years. Don't pay to have your "message" hitch a ride on someone else's flow. Put up your own site, and the people who want the information you provide (including positioning) will find their way to you. Welcome to the new world of commercial information. Goodbye to couch potatoes and eyeballs. This should also be a reminder to anyone still holding Google stock, you need to be thinking about taking profits while the taking is good.
This piece appeared on Scripting News on 8/3/06. I don't think too many people understood it then, but now that AdAge has confirmed the basic premise, in practice, maybe the theory will make more sense.
Yes, I have put ads on some of my sites, but never on Scripting News. I didn't want to interfere with my message by selling rides to hitch-hikers. Frankly they weren't offering enough money to make it worthwhile to me. In order to get me to share the space with them, they'd have to compensate me for the distraction, and for the bad vibes that comes from trying to distract the people whose attention I value most, the readers of Scripting News.
An example. As you know, I'm in the process of buying a house (the closing is a week from tomorrow), so I do a lot of email with my mortgage broker, accountant, realtor, insurance agents. They're all using email these days, so there's less phone tag, and it's easier to compare offers, juggling details is possible, even while I'm traveling. Last time I bought a house, in 1992, it wouldn't have been possible to go to NY and Boston in the week before the closing, but you can do it now.
So every time I get an email from one of these people, Google shows me ads for their competitors. I get an email from my accountant, ads from other accountants appear in the margin. My insurance agent sends me a quote, and links to other insurance agents appear. This is per the design of Internet advertising, but it's pointless. If I wanted information about competitors I know how to use the search engine, and I would go look them up (as I did when I was getting started).
That's the key point, we are seeking out commercial information all the time, as we live our lives in a material society. All day every day. I have to go into the city in an hour or so, and I used Google to decide to take a bus instead of calling a cab to take me to the subway station. I was able to estimate the cab fare, and since I don't live in NY and they keep changing the bus fare, I was able to find out how many quarters I needed to get on the bus (eight). It may seem trivial to you, but it wasn't to me. They require exact change. Now did any of the ads I've seen in the last hour get me that information? No.
When they finish the process of better and better targeted advertising, that's when the whole idea of advertising will go poof, will disappear. If it's perfectly targeted, it isn't advertising, it's information. Information is welcome, advertising is offensive. Who wants to pay to create information that's discarded? Who wants to pay to be a nuisance? Wouldn't it be better to pay to get the information to the people who want it? Are you afraid no one wants your information? Then maybe you'd better do some research and make a product that people actually want to know about.
At a meeting yesterday, at a famous media company, to illustrate this point, which can be a little subtle today, but will be making people billions in a couple of years, I pointed to my computer and my Blackberry. I said maybe Apple would provide software that made the Blackberry work as well as the iPod works with a Mac, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Then I pointed to something I noticed, another person in the meeting had a Blackberry and a Mac too. Amazing that we would both be customers for the same product that doesn't exist, and isn't likely to exist, the way things are going.
And that's why things will change. The current product development process, that focuses on a few supposed geniuses and ignores the intelligence that's in the user's minds, same as with unconferences, is about to run its course much as the old style conference can't possibly compete with one that involves the brains of the people formerly known as the audience. Think about it. There's a big trend here, imho it's the difference between the 20th and 21st centuries. In the past the flow of ideas for products was heavily centralized, and based on advertising to build demand. In the future, the flow of ideas for products will happen everywhere, all the time, and products with small markets will be worth making because we'll be able to find the users, or more accurately, they'll be able to find us. "Targeting" customers is the wrong metaphor for the future. Instead make it easy for the people who lust for what you have to find you. How? 1. Find out what they want, and 2. Make it for them and 3. Go back to where you found out about it, and tell them it's available.
I've been singing this song since 2000. I think we're almost there. I saw that Microsoft, Google and Yahoo are banding together to fight click-fraud. That's about as likely to work as the fight in the 80s to stop people from copying copy-protected software. The incentive to defraud is too great. And who's frauding who, I think it's the companies that take your money to hitch your message on "content" where it isn't welcome. Imagine taking people's money to turn their products into a nuisance. The kids being born today won't believe it used to work this way.
User-generated content is actually on the road to nirvana, but it's not a sustainable model in itself. In all that content, which today's companies view as frankfurter meat, undifferentiated slurry, a medium for unwanted hitch-hikers, is the idea for the next iPod, or the formula for peace in the Middle East, the campaign platform for the President we'll elect in 2012, perhaps even a solution for global warming. You just have to believe that intelligence isn't concentrated among the people who rose to the top of the 20th century's ladders to believe that there are nuggets of wisdom waiting out there for the taking, among the minds that created all that UGC.
Yogi Berra: "You can observe a lot just by watching."
Spruce is a killer hill. Once you start going up, it's just up, up and up. No chance to chill!
On this day in 1999, MacWEEK (now defunct) covered the introduction of Manila. Believe it or not, Manila is still a product, and UserLand is still operating.
Al Jazeera: "Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, has said Iraq is in the grips of a civil war and many people are worse off now than under Saddam Hussein."
Hipmojo says we're not in another bubble.
I'm coming to think of myself as ProtoBlogger.
BTW, I just noticed that Mike's headline, "Yahoo Gets Trashed by Users," exposes an insider's perspective. Companies that see users as adversaries are troubled. And analysts who encourage that aren't doing anyone a favor. This is why I finally left Silicon Valley, it had become dominated by this distrust of users. This is such a blatant example. The users are saying it so clearly. Yahoo screwed up. Even the people from Yahoo see this (the company used to have performance as a core value).
They all go through this, Apple had the Apple III before they produced the Apple IIe. IBM had the PCjr. Microsoft shipped a version of Word that didn't work, and at first couldn't understand what the users were saying. Me, I learned the lesson with Thinktank 128 on the Mac that had less features than the product we had on the IBM PC, which came out earlier. You can't break users Mike, and that's what Yahoo did. Explaining it as Users Behaving Badly is totally missing the point.
Postscript: Sometimes I think Radio, which was initially a success, was another example of breaking users. A year after its release I wished instead we had produced a Manila that runs on the desktop. Creating a whole new codebase and design for a blogging CMS wasn't such a great idea, in the end. Two architectures is one too many for a small company to support. And there were lots of features in Manila that never made it into Radio. It's totally technically possible to run Manila on the desktop behind a Fractional Horsepower HTTP Server.
Mike, as a former regular user of their service, I don't read the comments on their blog as hate, but we are frustrated. If there were an adequate replacement for the service on another site, the frustration level would be nowhere near as high, but while Yahoo's original service wasn't all that great, it was the only one out there that actually worked.
There's nothing theoretical about this frustration. Imagine you went out to your car this morning and found that Lexus had changed the way the accelerator worked, so that you had to restart the engine every time you wanted to press the gas pedal. This is the new modern way for cars to work they'd say to you. Ohh, but I just want to go to Starbucks and pickup a latte, you think. They say they appreciate the feedback, but the car keeps working the same brain-damaged way.
Most of us are accustomed to dealing with big companies that are really dumb about us as customers. All that's happened here is that Yahoo is now one of those companies. Would you *hate* Lexus for being so dumb (in the example, assuming you drive a Lexus). Nahh. Hate is a very strong word, so please be careful about using it, esp to describe a class of people that I'm in. I don't hate Yahoo, and if they fixed the service today (bring it back to its former functionality) net-net I'd be happy. I really just want to be able to find out what's on TV now, a nice movie perhaps, or find a news show when I want to find some news (an increasingly difficult thing to find, btw).
This is an important area btw, video on computers is hot, and this is video on computers. It's a convergence point, the fact tht Yahoo has the only usable listing service (or had) could have been a big advantage for them. As soon as one of their competitors creates a workalike, I bet news travels quick, and we'll all forget that Yahoo ever had a listing service.
Postscript: Bad news for Yahoo. TitanTV looks like a workalike to the old Yahoo interface (even a little nicer). I had tried out a bunch of others and none were as good, until this one. I'll try using it and keep you posted.
Watching Meet the Press this morning interview a Bush advisor lie, lie and lie. This is the guy who wrote the memo that leaked, where he told his boss the truth about Iraq. I look forward to the day when I can run a mashup of Meet The Press, and provide a running commentary. The name of the site would be What They Really Mean, and below the speaker would be a translation, in English, of what the spinmeister is saying.
Listening to these guys I think the US has gone crazy. When did our future become the future of Iraq? It's insanity. We had the leading economy, military, a great country. Iraq was one of a hundred despotic states, no tradition of freedom or intellect, a mediocre economy. What exactly was in it for us in merging with this third-rate country? We've lost our minds.
Frank Sinatra: "Being jilted is one of life's most painful experiences. It takes a long time to heal a broken heart. It's happened to all of us and never gets any easier. I understand, however, that playing one of my albums can help."
They have his "national anthem" on YouTube, of course.
It must be MSM week at Scripting News. Yesterday, the debate with Scoble appeared in the Wall Street Journal, and today the NY Times picked up the Bubble Burst 2.0 piece. I'm planning a piece on our friends in the red states and what they taught us.
They referred to me as "the protoblogger." Coool!
On this week's On The Media, a segment about a group that wants to block the political broadcasts of Hezbollah in the US. (Skip to 14:00 to hear the segment.) There's such a huge bug in their logic, they assume that if they were allowed to broadcast in the US, they would find a market. More likely they'd learn that if they want to be heard in this country, they have to learn to communication like human beings. But the would-be censors don't trust Americans, they think they know better. This is a moderate country, the day that it's not, no amount of censorship will save us. Better to let them broadcast, and learn first-hand that we don't buy their hate.
Doc Searls: "We play the hands of cards life gives us."
Amen to that. I went for a checkup on Thursday, and got some very good news. The Berkeley lifestyle is working wonders on my body. The doctor gave me all kinds of kudos. I'm playing the hand I was dealt. The numbers I got were great, for me; for you, they possibly wouldn't be. The doctor might tell you to shape up or you're in big trouble. Me, I'm in less trouble today than I was last year at this time. So we're going in the right direction. I'm a happy dude. Time for a hike in the woods!
On Monday in Santa Clara, a conference for evangelists about evangelism.
My WSJ debate with Scoble about innovation & Microsoft.
Dan Farber: "The fact the two friends and rabble rousers are debating the topic in the bastion of business reporting, the WSJ, is a good sign that big media is not just inhaling its own fumes."
Berkeley friend Jeff Ubois appears on The Scoble Show.
Jon Udell interviews the director of the University of Michigan library technology department about their deal with Google.
I received a Fedex package that was addressed to someone else. If it was the postal service, I'd just write PLEASE FORWARD in big black letters and drop it into a mailbox. But it's Fedex, and I know from experience that trying to call them is like hell on earth. Their voice system is set up to get you to go to their website, where you can send a package or track a package, and everything else is impossibly difficult. It would be a lot easier to just drop the package in the trash. What should I do?
BTW, according to Amazon, the package that I paid extra to have delivered yesterday, still hasn't left their warehouse. I know I can call them, enough people have sent me their hidden customer service number,
Bret Fausett: "If we all started calling those MP3s we send over the RSS feeds Zunecasts, how long do you think it would take Apple to retract its trademark claims on podcasting?"
Fascinating discussion on the Yahoo blog about their broken TV listing site. At least they have the courage to hear from real users. I think they should, if they can, restore the site to its former functionality, and then carefully re-approach the upgrade, with a small group of users giving feedback every step.
© Copyright 1997-2006 Dave Winer.